Nurses close the curtains of a patients room in the COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit at Surrey Memorial Hospital in Surrey, B.C., Friday, June 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Nurses close the curtains of a patients room in the COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit at Surrey Memorial Hospital in Surrey, B.C., Friday, June 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Rate of more contagious delta COVID-19 variant increasing in B.C. with 500 cases so far

Independent modelling group says variant poses a ‘serious risk’

As more and more British Columbians receive their COVID jabs, a variant could make the race between immunizations and the virus more heated.

The delta variant, scientifically dubbed B.1.617, was first reported by the province on April 22. At the time, health officials said there were 42 cases in the province. On Monday (June 7), Dr. Réka Gustafson, deputy provincial health officer and lead of the vaccine rollout, said the province had recorded about 500 cases – a figure she called “relatively uncommon.” Exact variant counts fall behind actual case counts due to the time it takes to do full genome sequencing.

The Delta variant has caused trouble both in Canada and abroad. In India, where it appears to have originated, it contributed to a month of daily death counts in the 3,000 and 4,000 range. In the United Kingdom, public health officials have said it’s 40 per cent more contagious and in Ontario, it’s on track to become the dominant variant, beating out alpha variant (B.1.117).

Speaking Monday, Gustafson was unable to provide information on where the delta variant is spreading in B.C. but said that it “has had an increase in the rates over the last several weeks and we will continue to monitor it.”

However, an independent modelling group made up of scientists from three major B.C. universities is concerned. In a video released June 2, University of B.C. associate professor of mathematics Eric Cytrynbaum said there was evidence that the delta variant was more resistant to the Pfizer vaccine, dropping from about 50 per cent for the alpha (B.1.117) variant after dose one to 33 per cent for the delta one.

The modelling group stated that if the delta variant remains contained, the May 25 Step 1 reopening is expected to lead to a “moderate” increase in cases, which will drop as more people are vaccinated.

“We should aim for more than 70 per cent vaccination of 18+ (~60% of all ages) in order to allow more reopening safely, especially in light of newly emerging VOC, like (delta variant) B.1.617.2,” the modelling group said.

“Delta poses a serious risk with with a potential five to 10 per cent per day increase in spread (over alpha),” Cytrynbaum said.

At the time the video was posted, 71.1 per cent of British Columbian adults had received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. As of Tuesday, one week after, 74.2 per cent of adults have received at least one dose.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control said that the first case of the delta B.1.617.2 variant was detected between March 21 and March 28 in the province. the BCCDC said that at the time, it was designated as B.1.617, which was split into three “sub lineages,” including delta B.1.617.2.

The BCCDC said the delta variant’s introduction into the province “appears to be travel related” and came in through multiple travellers, with the variant currently being found mostly in Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health.

READ MORE: Tam urges 2nd COVID vaccine dose as Delta variant emerges ‘essentially across Canada’


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Just Posted

AW Neill Elementary School in Port Alberni. (NEWS FILE PHOTO)
SD70 chooses new name for AW Neill School in Port Alberni

New name honours Nuu-chah-nulth Peoples’ connection to region

Ron MacDonald fields questions at a news conference in Halifax on Sept. 27, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Finding ‘comfortable’ indigenous monitor tough task in Tofino-area shooting death

Julian Jones case hampered by difficulty finding a civilian comfortable with privacy protocols

Port Alberni RCMP officer in command Insp. Eric Rochette presents longtime community policing volunteer Louie Aumair with a OIC appreciation certificate. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Port Alberni RCMP honour longtime volunteer

First responders receive support from broader community

The Dock+ is located on Harbour Road in Port Alberni. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
PROGRESS 2021: Port Alberni’s food hub still growing a year later

The Dock hopes to open a retail store on Alberni’s busy waterfront

Shanna Ramm of Mosaic is the first person to graduate with a Bachelor of Disability Management from Pacific Coast University-Workplace Health Sciences. Her convocation took place virtually on Dec. 1, 2020. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
PROGRESS 2021: Pacific Coast University celebrates with milestones

Alberni institution earns $6M return-to-work grant from province

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Police cars are seen parked outside Vancouver Police Department headquarters on Saturday, January 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver police officer charged with assault during an arrest in 2019

The service has released no other details about the allegations

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Denmark soccer player Christian Eriksen collapses during game against Finland

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps off Vancouver Island

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
2 sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the child welfare system takes Indigenous children from their families

Nathan Watts, a member of the Tseshaht First Nation near Port Alberni, shares his story of substance use, a perspective he said isn’t seen enough. (Photo courtesy of Nathan Watts)
Public shaming, hate perpetuates further substance use: UVic researcher

Longtime addict Nathan Watts offers a user’s perspective on substance use

57-year-old Kathleen Richardson was discovered deceased in her home Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Her death is considered a homicide and connected to the slain brothers found on a Naramata forest road. (Submitted)
Condolences pour in for Kathy Richardson, Naramata’s 3rd homicide victim in recent weeks

Richardson was well liked in the community, a volunteer firefighter with a home-based salon

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read